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"We are an open nation and
prefer to conduct affairs so
as not to pitch interests
against each other, but
rather to harmonize them"
President Nursultan Nazarbayev In his 20 February 2003 interview to
"Nezavisimaya Gazeta" newspaper of Russia
[excerpted below], Mr. Nazarbayev talks about
the Kazakhstan's approach to relations with
major players in the Caspian region and
Central Asia and the future he envisions
for the country
Question: This is the Year of Kazakhstan in Russia. How would that affect the relations between the two countries? Nazarbayev: Eleven years have passed since the countries of the former USSR separated and became independent nations. Today, relations between Kazakhstan and Russia move into a qualitatively new stage of development, because last year we reached a number of bilateral agreements that are already deemed breakthroughs. Moscow and Astana settled almost all the issues concerning the Caspian Sea. Russia and Kazakhstan taught a lesson of sorts to all the Caspian states about what is more effective: whether it is to seek agreement and work, or to spend decades arguing over the apple of discord. Last year, we signed major agreements on long-term transit of Kazakhstan's oil through Russia and on cooperation in the gas sphere through establishing KazRosGaz joint venture to jointly seek entrance into the European energy market. Question: There's a wide-spread view that the American military presence in Central Asia is in great part due to the West's desire to control the mineral resources of those countries. People talk about the expanding activities of foreign investors in Kazakhstan's oil market. How would you comment on this situation? Nazarbayev: People do talk a lot about the clash of geopolitical interests of the world's powers in Central Asia and in the Caspian region. Recently, this issue became more pressing with the events around Afghanistan. It is important to be clear about it. First, the action of the international antiterrorist coalition to restore order in Afghanistan got the support of all our countries, both nationally and within the Collective Security Treaty. Nobody is indemnified against terrorism. Second, we are an open nation and prefer to conduct affairs so as not to pitch interests against each other, but rather to harmonize them. The economic presence of the world's powers, which share the same aspirations, brings an element of stability to the future development of the Caspian. On our part, we have to ensure the stability and security in the region and guarantee normal work of producing companies and investors. This is why we seek to harmonize the international relations in the region and to promote close economic ties with the Caspian states. The US companies officially announced the investment of $3 billion into the Tengiz oil field expansion, where Russia is also represented by LUKOIL. Finally, I have one more point. Our national business has stood up on its feet and strengthened throughout the years of reforms. Kazakhstan's businessmen logically raised an issue of fully-fledged participation in financing and developing large projects on the same conditions as foreign investors who until recently had certain privileges. We accommodated their aspirations. These are the factors to take into account when pondering over the activization of these and passive stance of those countries. Question: Many associate Kazakhstan with oil and gas. What else does the country have to position itself in the world? Nazarbayev: The nature has indeed been very generous in lavishing resources on us, and not only oil and gas. Kazakhstan is among the world's top ten coal producers. We have major deposits of iron, chromium and manganese ores. But we did not earn natural resources. Fate gave them to us and we need to deal with them rationally. This is why we have never envisioned our future as a country solely dependent on exports of raw materials. We implement a number of strategic programs to create a high-tech and competitive economy, and I can already say that oil has ceased to be our main source of revenue. Question: How do you see Kazakhstan in 10 or 20 years? Nazarbayev: I read many interviews, and I don't recall anybody replying to such a question without hesitation. It may sound strange but I will be happy to reply to it and tell you what will be there even in 30 years. Kazakhstan's development is subject to a long-term strategy up to the year 2030. We plan that by that year Kazakhstan will have fully overcome the dependence on exports of raw materials and become an industrial power with a competitive economy and stable markets for its goods. We will have high-tech production, fully supply our country with products and will also import many goods. Our children and grandchildren will be well educated and in good health. They will speak Kazakh, Russian and English equally well. Their level of life will dwarf the present one. In 2030 our descendants will live in a country of developed democracy that would no longer be at the periphery of international events. It all may seem to be a dream but I can assure you that it will be so. Our development strategy is divided into stages and years, and all the state authorities work in full accordance with their own strategic plans based on this fundamental document. So if you want to call me an optimist, I would rather call myself a knowledgeable optimist.
Nursultan Nazarbayev has been president of an independent Kazakhstan since 1991. In 1999, he was reelected in the contested nationwide election for a new 7-year term. Mr. Nazarbayev has presided over Kazakhstan's extensive democratic and economic reforms over the past 11 years, and is leading the country under the strategic plan of development up to the year 2030. Mr. Nazarbayev is the author of several books, including most recently, Epicenter of Peace (2001) and Critical Decade (2003).
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News Bulletin of the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan
(Compiled from own sources and various agencies' reports)
Contact persons: Roman Vassilenko, Aibek Nurbalin
Tel.: (202) 232- 5488 ext. 104, 115
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